Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

The Certification Group
Smartwood Certification of Sustainability

Smartwood is a recent development in forestry and wood processing generally. The Rain Forest Alliance and the Forest Stewardship Council (created in 1993) have developed a set of criteria for well-managed, sustainable forests. When a forest meets the criteria, it may be certified as environmentally sound and under sustained conditions. Special attention as well as economic incentives follow. Like a "Good-Housekeeping Seal-of-Approval", the Designation significantly increases the value of the products from the areas.

See Green Products.

See description of various certification strategies and their comparisons an Oregon State Extension publication..

Certification requires a disinterested third party. Certification is thus voluntary verification of good forest stewardship by an independent third party according to set standards. For forest-product processors, a product labeling system differentiates their products in the highly competitive forest products markets. Presumably environmentally conscious and concerned citizens would prefer that the wood they use be from certified forests. Smartwood is an organization that has been formed to perform the certification. Advertised in national magazines and frequently given radio spots, SmartWood-certified wood is becoming well known. (The ISF and another group work in the western US.)

Major wood sales groups have featured it in their yards. A program following a "chain of custody" from forest to finished manufactured product (e.g., the pencil, furniture wood) has also been established. Wood from certified forests brings higher than standard prices wherever it is sold. Citizen acceptance is limited but growing. Contractors advertise homes built with certified wood. Export markets are reported to receive 10% more for certified lumber than other lumber from the same sources. Over 4.6 million acres in the US have been certified as well managed and 154 processors have established a chain of custody for products.

Following advertisements and other announcements, a landowner contacts Smartwood to become certified. After preliminary evaluations, a team of 4 people visits the land to observe. The owner presents all of the information requested; several days are spent in the field. A report is filed stating full certification or the needs for conditional certification. Opportunities are made for expert review of the report and a report (comments or rebuttal) from the owner. Once the conditions are met, the land is certified and it may sell wood as being from a certified forest. Periodic inspections are held to be sure that the criteria are continually met.

Rural System, Inc. proposes to have all of its lands certified. More importantly, it proposes to become a brokerage or liaison for the services needed to become certified. The process is expensive and complex but the rewards can be substantial, especially as they become part of a greening strategy. The plan that is required is long and complex and has high cost (and The Trevey can usually significantly reduce much of it). The typical landowner needs to have a staff "get ready," prepare an effective presentation to the visiting team, make field arrangements, present a summary, and continue correspondence about technical matters. Expedient certification is the byword. Usually The Certification Group would assist in subsequent updates and announcing when conditional elements could be removed. It could also assist in making inspections by making presentations and taking the inspectors to named sites.

We believe that Smartwood will be positive to our affiliation with Foresters, Inc., of Blacksburg, Virginia. While Smartwood approval is desired, it may be possible to achieve the objectives of this unit "outside of " and independent of SmartWood, working exclusively for the clients. Contact: The Forest Management Trust, 6124 SW 30th Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32608 (supported by the Moriah Fund and the Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation)

In January, 2000, a Smartwoodcourse was announced suggesting similar activities as those proposed for Rural System, Inc. From E-mail:

Forest Certification Assessor Training Workshop, Co-sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Forestry (ISF), Smartwoodand the City of Arcata

This course will teach participants how to conduct on-the-ground assessments of forest management practices using the Smartwoodcertification system, which is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Participant will be divided in to small teams to simulate the dynamics of an actual assessment: in this case, of Arcata Community Forest. Although abbreviated in format, the "mock" assessment will include all features of an actual assessment, including: field data gathering, stakeholder consultation, document review, scoring, report writing and client briefing of preliminary results.

The course is designed specifically to prepare foresters, biologists, scientists, economists, sociologists and other natural resource professionals for participation on assessment teams. Actual assessment teams include a range of natural resource specialists depending on the client. Participants should have at least a 4-year college degree or higher and at least 5 years of work experience in their field of expertise.

The cost for the workshop will be $395 per person (some scholarships are available), which includes the cost of instruction, all course materials, and meals for three days. Registration is limited to 24 participants. The 4-day course will be held in Arcata, CA.

A separate unit of The Certification Group will be explored seeking how to assist in land sales, that is, being an agent for realtors, assisting them in sale of lands. (see The RealtorGroup )

A web-page support for SmartWood, a catalog of all of the certified lands and products, will be investigated.


Development costs are $50,000

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